The current lockdown due to Corona Virus has made life extremely difficult for parents. In absence of maids and with children stuck at home 24*7 & not being allowed to go out to play with their friends, it is becoming a nightmare for parents to handle kids while also helping in home chores and doing office work.
While it is very tempting to give mobile or TV remote to children and keep them quiet for hours, we all know it is not good for their eyes. So via this blog, I will list 10 tricks I and Parul are using while managing our two daughters – 5.5 years old Yahvi and 3 years old Mihika. Aim is to keep them busy, minimize the time they spend on TV/mobile and also ensuring that our work is not affected.
1. Audio Stories
What you can do – Everyone loves stories. And while young children might not be able to read stories or you may not have many storybooks, everyone can listen to stories. Instead of giving them mobile/TV remote, have your children hooked to the world of audio stories. All you need is a membership of either Storytel / Amazon Audibles / Gaana. They have good collection of storybooks in audio format in different languages. Just select any story your child may love and play it. You children will be lost listening to the stories and will not disturb you for long periods 🙂
Below are the links for subscription to these audio story apps=>
Amazon Audibles (Free for children category until schools are closed)
Note – While Amazon Audibles collection is better, I personally prefer Storytel because we can listen to unlimited books at any time. Amazon audibles restricts you to only 1 free book per month. However, during the lockdown, Amazon audibles is offering unlimited free audio books in children category.
Tip – You may also make this a learning activity by asking your child to narrate the story to you after they have listened to it. This will improve their listening, understanding and articulating skills.
2. Offline Games
What you can do – To keep them away from TV and phone, encourage children to play the following games at home:
- Tower from Blocks / Dominos – give children challenges on this. Ask them to make a tower 25 blocks tall, make something in the shape of an object, etc
- Cricket / Badminton – Hang a ball/shuttle in center of the hall from a fan or via nail on a door frame and have your kid practice
- Soduku – if your kid is old enough, give him Soduku and other puzzles from old newspapers
- Jumbled words – depending on age, give the kids jumbled words to solve. For eg, GLSE for LEGS
- Ludo / Snake & Ladder
- Name – place – animal – thing
- Cards / Uno
- Carrom / Chess
- Dumb Charades
- Book Cricket
- Joining the dots
3. Give them tasks at home
What you can do – Start giving children tasks at home to help in household chores. You may choose to give either the same or different tasks on a rotating basis to your child depending on their age. Few examples are folding clothes after they have dried, putting the clean utensils back in cupboards, arranging their clothes properly in wardrobe, etc.. For older kids, give them other work like making the bed, dusting, sweeping/mopping floor, kitchen tasks like helping in cutting vegetables, making dough for roti, making rice, serving food, etc.. Keep penalty system if they do not do their tasks and also reward system if they do it well. For example, reduce their TV time by 15 minutes or giving them less of their favorite dish for not doing the task. And if they do tasks regularly for a week, they get their favorite dish (Maggi in our case :))
What we did – We told Yahvi that she is responsible for folding washed clothes and cleaning the dining table after every meal. Mihika’s task is keeping her toys and books back in their place and also watering the plants. Failure to do so will result in less TV/mobile time for Yahvi and less of her favorite fruit/favorite dress for Mihika. Initially, they revolted and did not help. But once they realized that they would not get their favorite things, everything worked well. Plus the added incentive of Maggi at the end of the week kept them going.
4. Make them independent
What you can do – Children are very curious and want to mimic everything adults do. So use this trick to help children become independent. Challenge them to start doing a particular task to show that they have grown up. Initially, you may feel that it is time waste as children end up messing things or taking too long to do the work. But keep patience and encourage them. They will gradually learn the right way to do the task. This will help you save some time which can be used for office/housework or relaxing.
What we did – We asked Yahvi to take bath, get ready and start eating on her own. For the first few days, it took more than double the time for her to finish her food and there was so much spillage. But gradually she started improving. Similarly for Mihika, while we give her bath, she gets ready on her own.
5. Continue their learning
What you can do – Ensure the long break does not result in children forgetting what they had learned in their school. So keep revising, taking surprise tests and giving them homework. Also, focus on what they will learn in the next class and try teaching some topics to them. Similarly, older children can redo their school projects which they would have done with the help of parents earlier. Or strengthen concepts they are weak in. You can also give them a topic and ask them to write an essay / prepare for a debate with you/their friends. Debate with friends can be done via phone conference.
What we did – We give Yahvi different tests from her school syllabus. We ask her to write something or read from her books. Also, keeping her next year in mind, we try to teach her new concepts like multiplication, writing sentences in both English and Hindi via dictation etc. For Mihika, we teach her rhymes she can relate to and also ask her questions about animals, numbers, colors etc – simple things which she knows / should know.
6. Give them activities they love
What you can do – Every child will have some favorite activity. Ask them to spend time on it. This will keep them engaged and away from TV/Mobile.
What we did – Yahvi loves dancing and reading books. So once she is done with her daily tasks, she either reads storybooks or plays songs on Alexa to dance. Similarly, Mihika loves playing with water. So we give her watercolors or a tub of water with her toys and she spends time playing her games.
7. Help them learn new skills
What you can do – Try teaching kids new things via games or points system. It can either be new concepts or new skills like dancing, music, painting, cooking, acting, singing, exercise, calligraphy, indoor sports, photography, computer skills etc.
What we did – I am trying to teach Yahvi how to read time from an analog clock. I have explained to her how we can magically use the table of 5 to know the minutes. I have also started teaching Yahvi how to use a computer.
8. Make rules
What you can do – Help them learn some discipline. Set some ground rules which have to be followed no matter what. And ensure that while forcing these rules on children, everyone else in the family also adheres to them
What we did – We made a rule that no one will watch TV/mobile during meals. And everyone in the family is sticking to this rule no matter what is coming on TV.
9. Spend time as a family
Once your office work is done and you have finished dinner and all other house chores, just remember to spend time with kids for some time. Talk with them, hear their stories, play games with them or tell them new stories.
10. Restrict TV/mobile time
You will not be able to stop them from watching TV/mobile. But at least restrict their time. Tell them clearly that they can watch only for x minutes each slot.
I understand that every parent is trying in their own way to keep kids busy during the lockdown. For the benefit of us all, I Will request all my readers to share their tricks to keep the kids engage. And also let me know your thoughts on this article.
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